Community centre to be taken over?

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Volunteers could take over the day-to-day running of Birstall Community Centre by autumn this year.

Villagers Ian Blamires and councillors Andrew Palfreeman and Liz Smaje have conducted two meetings with Kirklees Council to set an asset transfer in motion.

Lifelong Birstall resident Mr Blamires, 69, of Nova Lane, is in the process of setting up a company which would run the centre on a not-for-profit basis, funded by grant aid.

This comes after Kirklees’ Cabinet decided to close the centre in October unless any community groups indicated it was in a position to take it over.

Mr Blamires and the councillors are also considering a takeover of the library.

Mr Blamires said:“Kirklees are getting rid of buildings around the area. “We got together to form an organisation that’s hopefully going to manage the building. Certainly the community centre.”

He said the organisation would like to see the facility open for “as many hours as possible.

He added: “The community centre at the moment is very well-used and well-booked.

“It would be a great loss to Birstall if it was to close down. “I can remember when the building was put up in 1959. I want it to stay there for the people of Birstall to use.”

Mr Blamires and his wife Joanna Cooney run Birstall in Bloom along with around 20 volunteers.

They have carried out work around the community centre and library in Market Street, such as the inclusion of a war memorial, and all members support the takeover.

Community organisation network Locality has also been advising Mr Blamires on the asset transfer and the best ways to get funding.

The community centre, which is in the lower ground floor area of the library building, is used for dance classes, meetings and a range of other community activities.